The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just announced that all new light vehicles must have rear view visibility systems by 2018. Of course this means the price of a new vehicle just went up again. Certainly required blind spot detection is soon to follow. I remember when I was teaching my teenage sons to drive, I was always uncomfortable with them glancing over their shoulders to check for traffic in the “blind spot”. But that’s what their driving education taught, so what right did I have to contradict them. Still, how is it a good idea for the driver to take their eyes off the road in front of them? Despite the cost, maybe electronic blind spot protection is a good idea? Not necessarily.
Actually, we have blind spot detection in our cars right now and we probably didn’t even know it. The best part is that it doesn’t cost us a penny more.
While buying a new car with yet another electronic device that could potentially need repair is not at the top of my list, I did test drive a new Toyota Avalon recently with blind spot detection and thought it was really cool. An amber icon flashed in either of the side mirrors when a passing car was detected. It certainly was cool, but is it really necessary? Not according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). They advise that the perfect solution to blind spot detection is as simple as adjusting both the left and right side view mirrors out from the car’s body, losing sight of the car as a reference and covering the void of the blind spots.
A recent article in Car & Driver caught my eye and summed up the issue nicely:
It’s so simple, it’s stupid! Angle the side mirrors out away from the car until they just barely overlap the vision seen by the rear view mirror. This past weekend I took a 500 mile road trip, so I gave the idea a try. Like most other drivers, initially I was uncomfortable without seeing my car as a reference, but the more I drove, the more it made perfect sense. I passed the hours by experimenting with both side mirrors, fine tuning their positioning to optimize coverage of the blind spots. A car is in my rear view mirror. As the car begins to pass, it’s in plain sight both in the rear view and the side mirror. Just as the passing car leaves my side mirror, I see it for real in my peripheral vision. Each stage of this coverage overlaps nicely. No gaps in seeing the passing car, no blind spots. I now have perfect 360 degree vision around my car.
I don’t need blind spot detection and neither do you. We’ve had it free for years. Once you get by the slight learning curve of not seeing your car as a reference, you’ll love it. There’s no going back for me, no more driving blind. It’s blind spot detection made easy.
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